This is yet another one of those recipes that happens when I decide to make lemon curd, and then have to figure out something to do with all the egg whites. I was just going to do plain meringues, but then for some reason my brain (which is not usually a particularly visual organ) came up with this image of stylised bunnies. I drew the design on a piece of paper to see if it actually looked bunny-like outside my brain, and it did! After that, it was just a matter of figuring out what colour to make the paws and ears, and how to do little bunny-like faces…
Your Shopping List (for 12 bunnies, which is what I would have had if I hadn’t managed to stuff up on separating one of my eggs)4 egg whites (use the yolks for lemon curd, or maybe a huge batch of mayonnaise) 1/4 tsp cream of tartar 1 1/3 cups of caster sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla paste food colourings and flavours to taste – I used rose, violet and orange essences. coloured mini choc chips, or silver cachous, or other decorations for faces. several piping bags, if you don’t already own them – you will probably need one for each colour, unless you are much bigger on washing up than I am
Now what will you do with it?
First, make the meringue. Start with a very clean bowl, and with your egg whites at room temperature (they whip up better this way), and add the cream of tartar. The cream of tartar is quite important, as it prevents the egg whites from over-beating and separating – if you don’t have it (and if not, how are you making playdough? How?), you could use a couple of pinches of salt for the same effect.
Whip your eggwhites until soft peaks form. I’ve never had any idea what this is, but my interpretation is that the eggs hold their shape, but if you tilt the bowl, the mixture still moves around (i.e., you couldn’t hold it upside down over your head without giving your hair an egg treatment). Incidentally, you can do this by hand and it takes less time than you might think, but unless you are trying to build arm strength, electric beaters are a better idea. Especially once you start beating the sugar in, because that really does take ages.
Beat the sugar in in about 6 small batches. Theoretically, you should wait until the sugar from one batch is totally dissolved before you add the next. You can tell this by rubbing some of the mixture between your finger and thumb – if you can feel grains, your meringue isn’t ready yet. This takes ages, and I do not have the patience for it, which is why my meringues are never perfect. I have absolutely no problems living with the disgrace of this, and you should not be ashamed, either.
After the last batch of sugar is in, add the vanilla, and fold through. Your mixture should now be shiny and a bit sticky and hold its shape beautifully.
Now you want to divide your mixture into different colours. If you are somewhat crazy, like me, and want three different colours, you will need about 2-3 heaped dessertspoons full of mixture for each of your non-white colours, and the rest will be your bitty bunny bodies (sorry) (not really). Don’t colour your coloured bits yet.
Put your white mixture into a piping bag with a plain nozzle (or use a ziplock bag with a hole cut in the corner), and line two baking trays with baking paper. Pipe six large circles (in a spiral motion) onto each tray, with six smaller circles above them, as heads. Remember that you will need room for feet, paws and ears. (Good luck with that. You may need a third tray.)
If you don’t have enough mixture for twelve bunnies, you may need to pillage from one of your colours to pipe a bit more white, which is why you didn’t dye them yet, did you?
Flavour and colour one of your coloured bowls of mixture. I used a wooden skewer and dipped each end into the colouring before using each end in turn to mix it in – this gave me a good pastel shade. I also used a few drops of my chosen flavouring.
Pipe four of your bunnies with feet (two big thick lines at the base of the bigger circle), front paws (two big dots up and to the sides of the bigger circle), and ears (surely you know what bunny ears look like?). If you have a little bit extra in that colour, you could give them little circles on their tummies, too. Incidentally, if, like me, you are kind of crappy at piping things, a good thing to remember is that you need to stop squeezing the piping bag before you lift the tip from what you are piping. It’s not a bad idea to pipe, stop squeezing, then lower the tip to touch the surface before lifting it away with a quick little squiggle motion – this tends to stop bits of what you are piping from continuing to trail sadly onward after you want them to stop…
Was that even intelligible? I’m sorry, it’s been a long day.
Repeat the process with colours number two and three, then decorate your little bunny faces.
Heat the oven to 110°C, and bake the bunnies for about 90 minutes. What works best is to do this at the end of the day, and then switch off the oven and let the bunnies sit in the cooling, closed oven overnight, to dry out a bit more.
Remove carefully from the paper (two of my bunnies lost an ear in this process, alas), and store in an airtight container until you are ready to share your bunnies with the unsuspecting public!
If you would like more natural-looking bunnies, it would be fun to add a little cocoa powder mixed with a smidge of boiling water as your meringue colouring for the paws and ears. And there is no reason why you have to use confectionery for the faces – little slivers of pistachio for eyes or of dried cherries for mouths would be lovely.
This recipe is, obviously, vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, and low fructose, but is not even slightly vegan, and is as far from low-GI as is humanly possible. But it is extremely cute, which does count for something, don’t you think?
I am submitting this to my own Easter Inspirations challenge, which feels like a bit of a cheat, because it really isn’t in the spirit I was aiming for, but I’m hoping to do vegan choc-cross buns in the next few days, which will hopefully make up for it…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Recipe: Not-tella Quinoa Slice Two years ago: Recipe: Preserved Kumquats – an unfinished tale